In the event of a severe nuclear power accident, radioactive iodine is released; it can cause thyroid cancer and disease, and mental retardation in children of exposed pregnant women. Children, infants, and the unborn are the most vulnerable. The use of potassium iodide (KI) will help protect against these dangers, by blocking the thyroid with a harmless form of iodine.
It is important to note that this document from the federal Office of Science and Technology states “a more effective preventive measure does exist for the extended zone covered by the Act, namely avoidance of exposure altogether through evacuation of the potentially affected population and interdiction of contaminated food. Analysis of radiological release events that could lead to adverse thyroid conditions beyond the current 10 mile zone shows that limiting or avoiding exposure to radiation through these mechanisms is practical and much more effective than the administration of KI in the proposed extended zone.” [emphasis added]
KI, a small pill, must be taken before or shortly after exposure (within six hours) to be effective. It does not protect against the other harmful releases – only radioactive iodine. One pill provides protection for twenty-four hours.
KI is FDA approved, is a regular component of over-the-counter cough medicines and ordinary table salt, and has been stockpiled for the public in nations around the world. However, adverse reactions are possible for those who are allergic to iodine. Anyone with an iodine allergy who is considering the use of KI should consult with a healthcare provider. You should follow the directions for storage and use included with the product.
To protect your family, you should have your own supply at home, and KI stockpiles should be placed in communities that are likely to be impacted by a nuclear power plant accident. Why? Even if you have KI in your home, it will not do your children any good if an accident occurs during school hours. Without stockpiling, visitors to an impacted town would not be protected either; they would not have known to buy it beforehand.
Massachusetts Medical Society on KI
The 2002 June/July issue of Vital Signs, a members-only newsletter of the Massachusetts Medical Society, reported that the Society’s House of Delegates “approved a resolution calling for the distribution of potassium iodide to all Massachusetts communities for protection against radio-iodine.” Adoption by the House of Delegates makes the resolution official policy of the MMS. The resolution was brought before the delegates at their annual meeting by Harwich resident Dr. Milton Hirshberg, a member of Cape Downwinders.
The full text of the resolution as amended reads, “That the Massachusetts Medical Society support the position that thyroid-blocking agents approved by the Food and Drug Administration should be provided to all Massachusetts cities and towns in order that their residents have access to medical protection against injury from radioiodine.” [emphasis added]
Massachusetts Government and KI
Massachusetts’ KI law – In 2002, our government finally acknowledged that airborne radioactive material (I-131) doesn’t stop at the bridge.
The fiasco of Massachusetts’ initial KI distribution efforts – the Massachusetts Department of Public HealtH (MDPH), which has given – at best – lukewarm support for KI stockpiling, can’t measure demand using it’s past ‘pseudo-distribution’.
From the MDPH:
Regulations for the Provision of Thyroid Blocking Agents (105 CMR 124)